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Buckelew, Norton headed to Texas for national debate tourney

Kayla Buckelew, at left, and Devin Norton of Bob Jones High School have qualified for the National Debate Tournament in Dallas this summer. (CONTRIBUTED)
Kayla Buckelew, at left, and Devin Norton of Bob Jones High School have qualified for the National Debate Tournament in Dallas this summer. (CONTRIBUTED)
Bob Jones Debate Team members Jordan Cozby, from left, Devin Norton, Sabrina Chen and Andrew Smith won against competing schools in the International Public Policy Forum. (CONTRIBUTED)
Bob Jones Debate Team members Jordan Cozby, from left, Devin Norton, Sabrina Chen and Andrew Smith won against competing schools in the International Public Policy Forum. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Debate is a relatively new extracurricular option at Bob Jones High School, yet students have mastered the skills quickly to qualify for national competition.

“The terrific team of Kayla Buckelew and Devin Norton qualified for the National Debate Tournament in Dallas this summer,” coach Scott Seeley said after the district tournament at Montgomery Academy on March 14. “They will be representing Alabama and Bob Jones in Dallas.”

Buckelew and Norton placed third overall in Montgomery. “All of our teams did well, but these first-year debaters raised the bar for all,” Seeley said.

Bob Jones received “high praise for sending the first-ever Madison City Schools debate team of Aditya Mathur and Jordan Cozby last year, but now … wow. Two in a row. Who rules debate in North Alabama? We do,” Seeley said.

In other competition, a Bob Jones debate team outranked 236 schools to secure an expenses-paid trip to New York to compete in the International Public Policy Forum (IPPF).

Sabrina Chen, Jordan Cozby, Devin Norton and Andrew Smith “ascended through a tough debate IPPF competition. Bob Jones had not one but two debate teams remaining in the Sweet 16. That field was narrowed to the Final 8, which includes one of the teams,” Seeley said.

Bob Jones was the only high school in America with two teams in the “Sweet 16” semi-finals round. The other team members were Kacie Flores, William Jackson, Aditya Mathur and James Moore.

Bickel & Brewer Foundation and New York University sponsor the debate forum, the only competition for high school students with written and oral debates on public policy.

“Bob Jones students distinguished themselves as one of the best teams in this worldwide competition,” William A. Brewer III said. He is Bickel & Brewer partner and IPPF founder.

In New York, Bob Jones will first face St. Mark’s School of Texas on May 2 “in single-elimination, oral debate for one of the most coveted titles in debate – IPPF World Champion,” Brewer said.

For more information, visit ippfdebate.com.

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